The Reign of the Five Good Emperors was the political period in Ancient Rome ruled successively by five emperors of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty, from 96 to 180 AD; Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. Characterized by the use of common sense and equanimity in government, they were good emperors and wise administrators, from a political, military, and financial point of view, bringing stability and social peace to the Empire, with many public constructions being carried out, such as roads, bridges, aquaducts, amphetheaters, public baths, etc. Except for the Third Jewish Revolt (132-136), the Trajan’s Dacian War, and the war against the Parthian Empire in the East, the Five Good Emperors Reign was also marked by a long period of peace within the Empire’s borders. During this period, Rome exerted its greatest political and cultural influence, leaving indelible traces on the Western civilization.
Although Commodus also belonged to this dynasty, he is excluded because his reign marks the beginning of political anarchy and decadence of the Roman Empire. The Reign of the Five Good Emperors is also characterized by the peculiar way in which one emperor succeeded the other, for they were succeeded on the throne by an adopted son; for example, Marcus Aurelius was Antoninus Pius’s adoptive son. The paradox is that this great period of splendor and grandeur was put to an end, when Marcus Aurelius decided to name as his successor his real son, Commodus, instead of an adoptive one (but fit and capable) as it had been the tradition. The slogan or motto employed during this period was “aequanimitas”, which means equanimity (having composure, being calm and using reason).